Think of a time when you had to manage someone’s expectations on something that was changing. It can be something from work – a change in process or a change in staff, perhaps. It can also be something on a smaller scale – a change in logistics for a family gathering or community fundraiser. In either element, change management always plays a part. Organizations will always see ebbs and flows in their methods and processes. Change is tough for most people – it can be challenging, worrisome, and intimidating. How do we face change in our organization, manage all shifting processes, quell miscommunications, and meet expectations of all staff and stakeholders?
Here comes in the fluid concept of change management. This concept is a process used to pinpoint and execute required developments or changes within an organization. It’s fluid because its boundaries depend on what is changing, along with when, how, and who is involved and affected by the changes.
Let’s take a quick look at why change management is necessary. Change comes from many different organizational needs. Those necessities can be things such as undertaking new projects, improving performance, taking on presented opportunities, or addressing key issues. Those needs lead to modifications such as different flow of processes, job roles, organizational structure, or types of technology utilized. It involves multiple teams and a customized plan to deliver change effectively.
Change management is a systematic approach to implementing new processes and methodologies. It is an essential tool in a leader’s arsenal. Managing change is difficult. The success of change does not completely rely on the person or team spearheading the management process. This is because there is shared responsibility between leadership and management, and the ultimate change, the most important, needs to come from the individual employees themselves. An employee is the only one who can significantly change the way he or she handles these new situations and personally adapt to new roles or environments.
So, how is change management performed? There are roughly two major steps to successful change management. The first step is to identify the groups of people who will need to change as a result of these needs; those who play a role within the alteration. These are the people whose job is to perform the process that is changing, who uses the technology that is changing, or who takes on different roles or tasks to fit into the a new structure.
Once those affected individual employees and/or teams are identified the next step is to create a customized plan of action. This plan should ensure the impacted employees receive the pertinent information, guidance, instruction, preparation, and training they need in order to be successful in their changing atmosphere. One needs to make sure that this step is completed at the individual level as well as at the team level. This is the longest part of the two-step process as multiple rounds of communication are essential. This should be the central focus of the project.
How can leadership influence an effective change management plan? In this case, leaders are defined as those who oversee the team spearheading the process as well as those additional stakeholder heads. The first thing leaders should do is directly address resistance. Employees should be heard and encouraged to fully participate in the process. Another essential task leaders need to complete is to design and clarify a vision, stating exactly what the change means to the organization. Additionally, there needs to be alignment between the specific changes and the company objectives and goals. Lastly, to have a successful change-management plan, all leaders across all levels need to be engaged in the action and communication. A single leader cannot do it on his or her own.
It is important to remember that change is inevitable. It does not always matter what is changing. What is essential is how we handle the change and keep moving forward.
- Richard Finger has worked in Human Resources for over 20 years and has worked with small, private organizations, global corporations, and most currently, a healthcare organization. Richard has worked abroad a number of years in England as well as The Netherlands, where he acquired a great appreciation for cultural awareness. He currently holds three Human Resource Certifications (SHRM-SCP, SPHR, SPHRi), and is also teaching the SHRM-CP/SHRM-SCP preparation course at Howard County Community College. Richard earned his Bachelor Degree in Psychology at University of Central Florida, and Master Degree in Human Resources Management & Labor Relations at New York Institute of Technology. Richard has been writing for Baltimore Outloud for a number of years, contributing articles about his Human Resources experiences, as well as moonlighting as the author of Finger's Food restaurant reviews. Richard has enjoyed writing for the paper, and looks forward to many more opportunities to do so.